by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghMarch 22, 2017 counseling, couples counseling, couples therapy, marriage counseling, psychotherapy0 comments
Repair or Run; Relationship Checklist
Whether married, dating, in a long or short term relationship, despite our most valiant efforts, sometimes our love becomes disharmonious, with that being said, each person we date or meet doesn’t have the personal and relationship skills to create a beautiful love song that will echo into eternity. Perhaps you are like most people who can relate to having been conflicted about whether or not to remain in a relationship. Friends, family, and romantic partners alike can bring so much joy and enrichment into our lives and hope, coupled with happy peaceful times allow us to remain steadfast and true when we run upon difficult moments. However, sometimes despite our protests and discussions we may find that the relationship has taken a turn leaving us feeling down and discouraged? Below are questions to ask ourselves to prompt considerations which will help us to determine whether or not a relationship is worth the continued investment.
Does this person want what is best for me?
Those whom we allow in our lives should have our best interest at heart. The decisions we make have a direct impact on our lives. Therefore, the closest people to us, should encourage us to make good decisions. Our relationships should drive us to be mindful of the decisions we make and any guidance offered should be free of ulterior motive. A solid foundation, in a nurturing environment, allows for growth.
Have I abandoned my own values to have this person in my life?
Values can be defined as what is important in ones life. If we abandon what is important in our lives, we abandon the very fiber that makes us who we are. Sometimes we start very early to look past certain red flags like smoking, or drinking, or a temper in order to be patient and compassionate but it is important to understand and have boundaries as well as “deal breakers.” Just as well as other factors such as valuing sexual connection, health, and time as high priorities and coupling with others who value the same.
Do I trust them?
The ability to trust someone involves several fundamental components: reliability, honesty, integrity, and security. Those in whom we invest should possess such characteristics. Without these, and without trust, a foundation cannot be built and therefore, a relationship cannot be sustained. One should never invest in a faulty foundation. On the other hand, in order to trust another we first must trust ourselves.
Am I significant to this person?
The heart of significant human relationships can be found in the ability to influence each other. When we influence one another, we are shown that our existence has meaning and what we think and believe is important. The relationships in which we invest should make us feel that we are worthy of attention. You deserve to feel like a priority!
Is this relationship is one sided?
In order to feel happy in a relationship, one must feel like his or her needs are being met. Often, when a relationship is one sided, we are left feeling dissatisfied because one or more of our needs have been ignored. Investment in a relationship involves mutual communication, vulnerability, and commitment. It is a vital necessity to mutually value and appreciate in a loving relationship.
In love and relational wellness,
Corynn Koos Ma, LPC, NCC
Therapist and Relationship Counselor at The Counseling and Wellness Center of Pittsburgh
by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghFebruary 7, 2017 counseling, couples counseling, couples therapy, dating, divorce, marriage counseling, meditation, personal growth, psychology, therapists, therapy, wellness, wisdom, yoga0 comments
The Valentine’s Day Love Manual For Singles, Married, and Those Who Never Want to Date Anyone Ever
We develop patience because we come to understand demandingness, we best learn to love by having our hearts broken, when our dignity is usurped, and our sanity called into question, sometimes this is the starting point for some wondrous growth and opportunity. We develop spirit by first living soullessly, we begin the path toward discipline because we know the deleterious dangers of living in the aimless direction of ego and ID driven revelry. For the month of February, many of us are more focused on love and relationships with Valentine’s Day upon us. As therapists, as women, humans, lovers and people who know just a little bit about the psychology of relationships, we offer this, The Valentine’s Day Love Manual for Singles, Married, Dating, and Those Who Never Want to Date Anyone Ever. Lets make love to the world with our song, our breath, our actions, and the beautiful ripples of our actions come to life.
1-“The First Rule of The Love Manual” For The Singles, The Free Birds Fluttering Brightly.
Love Your Self!
If we are going to ever get anything done in this world we must first love ourselves. If we don’t come from a place of self-acceptance, self-love, self-compassion, we will never be able to move beyond animal nature, we will never have any real relationship with anyone, anything, or any project. So if you’re single and loving it, rather work on perfecting your down dog or grooming your cats mane, that’s ok, just as long as it comes from a place of mindful self-love, we think that’s swell! You see as we humans evolve, we no longer pay as much attention to where we are going but instead it is how are we getting there, what is the motivation for action? Sound lofty? It is and that’s exactly what we are going for, something a little more! We can fall in a million different directions if we don’t practice mindfulness vigilantly, we may fall backwards into lesser motivation. Motivation, if not coming from love, is then derived from ego, ego quests for power, attention, praise, control, and per The Sage and All of the Worlds Ancient Ones, the ego culminates inferior instincts.
2- “The Second Rule of the Love Manual”, To Be Used If you want to attract great love into your life;
Love Your Self!
Like attracts like or like attracts the opposite, most importantly those who we share attraction with are those who vibrate on the same frequency as our root identity or self-concept. If we are vibrating in our lower elements, or energy centers of the physical realm, we will fall into relationships that are purely on the physical realm, which can be really great if that’s what two people are wanting together. Perhaps we have entered the emotional stage of development, then we will invariably only commit to relationships which mirror that. Perhaps we are vibrating from ego, and we quest for idolatry or fame, we may look only for those who embody false values such as vanity or fame. If we value power then we connect on that plane, if we truly love ourselves, as we develop spirit, then we will only connect with those who have peaked the crescendo toward those levels of being; spirit, morality, goodness, compassion, authenticity, and respect. When we love ourselves, we only acquiesce with those who mirror to us genuine affection.
The Third Rule of The Love Manual, For Those who are in a relationship long or short term, to keep the Love Strong,
Yes, you guessed it!
Love Your Self!
How does loving yourself keep things in balance for long-term relationships? Well unless we are discussing an extreme form of narcissism, chances are we think of your partners needs and do it often. For some, it is hard or guilt inducing to incorporate some self-indulgence into life rituals. How do we make time for a jog in the park when our wife is finishing with work and will be disappointed if we aren’t at home early? Before we know it, we haven’t constructed a relationship, we have constructed a cage! We choose and choose again, others needs and requests far beyond our own and resultant we consciously and unconsciously become overwhelmed, withdrawn, frustrated, passive aggressive, withholding, and depressed. This is not helpful for our love, and furthermore when we don’t love with boundaries, healthy limits, and in loving acknowledgment of our own needs we are not participating in a relationship or marriage, this is bondage and emotional servitude. So go ahead, choose yourself, love yourself and value yourself and watch your relationships flower beautifully!
In love, kindness, warmth, and respect,
The Counseling and Wellness Center of Pittsburgh Therapy TeamLearn More
by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghNovember 3, 2016 couples counseling, couples therapy, divorce, marriage counseling, mindfulness, personal growth, psychotherapy, therapist, therapists, therapy, wellness, wisdom0 comments
Love, Aspires, Inspires, A Verb from the Muses
There are relationships, there are couples, marriages in fact which succeed in months, years, decades even in commitment and in monogamy without living in love. Let us not confuse the fact that because we have created a relationship that we are loving another person. Just as we know sex can exist without love, long and short term relationships exist, co-habitation, partnerships, they are aplenty without love. Often as therapists, we see couples in crisis, they bring in the scathing shards of their shattered romance and wonder how they can rebuild the faith in their affection. Across America the typical couples make a beeline for argumentative conversation which meanders around topics of how can we get our partner to hear, to see, to acknowledge our needs and to change their behavior. Certainly, these lines of inquiry have their place in the creation of meaningful bonds, we expect and validate that there must be a mutual and respectful collaboration and a relationship is a place where both member’s voices are heard, understood, and at the minimum respectfully entertained. For this essay, let us examine the relationship from a separate space, in recognition that true love isn’t about what we can get, how we get our partner to put down the toilet seat or offer more physical intimacy, it is within what we can give, as at its root, love is not about us as individuals it is about the other, the beloved other.
Love is Patient
Love is patient, love does not make unnecessary demands upon time or attention as love remains present when hearing “no”, “not right now”, “maybe tomorrow” or another day. Love excites to hear no because it is within “no” that an opportunity to understand a boundary exists. Love listens and can hear the fears and anxieties beneath the shaking words of long and difficult days, and with best intention, love seeks to sooth anxiousness and fear. Love is the gentle nuzzle which brings the sharp wail of the crying baby closer into bosom. Love is the gracious wind which billows atop positive intentions, the sweet breezes which pollinate The Delicate Cherry Blossom and The Mighty Japanese Maple, alike.
Love is Kindness
Love is kindness and the assumption that our beloved is offering to us goodness. Love is so infinitely gentle in its delivery of words and connection; it is lovingness which exudes its feather tipped delivery, not sharp needling. Love is inquisitive and present; she is the instillation of hope. Love connects and harmonizes towards natures bountiful flow. Love is abundant and shares in the quest for greater understanding and timely compassion.
Love is Sacrifice
Love is sacrifice, the ultimate sacrifice indeed because love makes no room for the egos demands and rigid preconceived notions of personal expectations. To love is to receive and respond to another person’s needs. Love is a beacon and a refuge, the replenishment of optimism, as indeed there are many who would proffer that love is a delusion and perhaps it is true. Perhaps there could be no love in the universe if it weren’t for the proverbial rose colored glasses that tinge our earthen bonds with eternal delight. We can see it in those who share in it, as there are indeed relationships, there are passionate romances and sexually fueled emissions of pleasure but many or most of those are not in fact love. Love is connection, love chooses us and then we choose to make the leap of faith offering our brittle bones in their vulnerable frailty to the source of human faith.
For many lofty philosophical types and religious leaders, love is indeed The Source, it is the meaning for human existence, love, the elixir of the gods is all plentiful but sometimes too the well runs dry. Yet I can promise any reader this; that if we have come to a place where we question the integrity, the meaning, the strength of our connection in our relationship, that we have in fact moved away from these necessary components, these loving heart swelling calliopes. Sometimes too, that is for the best, not every person, place or moment is deserving of love and this thing which is so pure and grand, this glimmering star dust may not be within the reach of capacity for each of us or in each moment, dear mortals, this too is much more than ok. Let us all be cautiously aware of loves impostors dressed as the fool, searching for easy answers, demanding knowingness, the ego, suspicions and cruelty, violating boundaries, dismissal, withdrawing, manipulation, these, none of these deserve the association to loves eternal expansiveness. When we speak of boredom and unmet needs we are no longer singing the praises of love, these are only ego.
We always know most immediately those who are vibrating near the pulse of loves harpsichord, their eyes shone a bit more brightly, they are willing to look beyond the shadowy valleys to take in the vistas of the cloudless sky, yes, yes, just perhaps that is it, the source of it all, love a gift pluming and cascading like the most precious gift, the rays of sun dancing down from way, way, up there.
Your friends The Troubadours of The Millennium
In love and light,
The Counseling and Wellness Center of Pittsburgh
830 Western Avenue
Pittsburgh Pa 15233
by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghAugust 29, 2016 co-parenting, counseling, couples counseling, couples therapy, divorce, educational, marriage counseling, parenting, psychology, psychotherapy, therapists, therapy0 comments
6 Tips for Harmonious Co-Parenting, Children of Divorce
As they say, parenting is the hardest thing one may ever have to do, this statement becomes two fold when parenting as a single parent. According to The American Psychological Association, being a child of divorce or raised by a single parent is also associated with many risks to long term emotional health, and even poorer academic performance, poor view of marriage and relationships. We offer the following guidelines for parenting situations where both parents are non-abusive, an entirely separate list of guides should exist for situations where there has been a history of any form of abuse.
Lovingly Encourage The Time Your Child Spends with The Other Parent
When we as parents aren’t actively encouraging our child to love and interact with both parents then we are injuring the child and his or her relationship with the other parent. What does it mean to lovingly encourage? It means that if your child comes home from a weekend or evening with his or her other parent that you treat she or he with positive regard. Do a check in, and ask with enthusiasm what were the highlights, follow this up with an encouraging statement. This is not doing investigative work and trying to learn details about the other parent. Or on the other end, some parents may be non-communicative with the child after he or she returns from time with the other parent. Children can be subtle creatures, when we fail as parents to embrace with positivity the relationship our child has with others they will likely end up feeling guilty about their relationship with mom or dad. This lays the ground work for Parental Alienation which damages not only the other parent but most importantly the child.
Never discuss custody details or visitation arrangements within ear shot of the children
Even if you and the co-parent have an iron clad custody arrangement there may be times when the need for alterations may come up, it is imperative that these discussions happen away from the children as these are adult discussions. When a child hears mom or dad crying that the other parent wants to have them over Christmas they will most likely feel a sense of guilt. Children hear and see much more than we imagine and it is injurious when they see and hear their primary custodial parent crying or complaining about time with the other parent. This means that they will feel guilty or uncertain about time spent with that parent who is outside of the home and this too carves the pathway to a lifetime of guilt and shame, this too is also often a contributing factor in both long term emotional damage for the child as well as parental alienation.
Genuinely assume your child’s co-parent has good intentions and is an asset to your child’s life.
This is hard, all of these are hard! There are likely huge differences between you and your child’s other parent, some of them leading to the reasons your own romantic relationships failed, It’s important to keep in mind that your child is a product of both of you. To assume good intentions means that if your child comes home crying and complaining about reading time that mom or dad made them do that you don’t sigh and complain to the child about “no good mom or dad.” Instead even though you may encourage other activities to your child that you sooth the child and support those parenting efforts by the other parent, recognizing that your co-parent may have some talents and interests to offer to the child that are separate from yours.
Do some honest appraisal of what may or may not benefit the child and separate that from what you want.
This means that the vacation that mom or dad wants to take the child on which falls on your visitation may be something positive for the child, while we may not want to give up that day or weekend with the child we must do an honest assessment of what is in the child’s best interest in each situation. This may mean exposure to family time, activities, interests and places that are unfamiliar to us and at times inconvenient yet we do this in the name of the child’s health and wellbeing.
Gifts and the part-time parent
The sad truth is that many of the emotionally injurious acts that happen in co-parenting situations happen veiled in the guise of love. More often than not, both parents love the child and want to spend time with he or she and fear the time spent away from the home with the other parent. It may be natural to envy your co-parent’s gifts and spending power but reducing time or putting unreasonable limits on each other’s capacity to relate to your child in a way that nurtures and enhances them must be the primary goal. Also, it is easy to feel that the non-custodial parent comes in and gets to enjoy the fun times of long weekends and adventures with the children while the challenges of the day to day living are left in the home, this is a space where it is helpful to separate your feelings from what is good for the child.
Do your emotional homework!
Divorce and separation leave a long line of emotional reactions from hurts, sadness, anger, abandonment, confusion. These feelings must be worked through and resolved to the best of your capacity, they will not vanish on their own. The single most important piece of advice that can be offered is to deal with the emotional aftermath in a way that supports your ability to truly offer supportive parenting to your child’s experiences with the other parent, whether this is by seeking counseling or therapy or some other means, do your emotional homework
Sharing love and time with children after a divorce or separation can be a huge challenge for parents, it is particularly dire that this be navigated in a sensitive way that mutually supports and respects the love and parental rights of both parents. When parents fail to create an atmosphere of parental collaboration it can have long lasting effects on the child’s mental and emotional health as well as concept of relationships later on in life. By following the suggestions above, we make it more likely that these effects can be lessened and we become an example of a successful divorce and co-parenting family.
In good health and love,
The Counseling and Wellness Center of Pittsburgh
Contributed by Nicole Monteleone LPC, NCC, NBCC
830 Western Avenue
Pittsburgh Pa 15233
Reference: http://www.apa.org/about/gr/issues/cyf/divorce.aspxLearn More
by Stephanie McCrackenDecember 31, 2014 counseling, mindfulness, new year 2015, personal growth, psychotherapy, resolutions, Uncategorized, wisdom0 comments
A New Year and A Blank Canvas
The infamous ball is approaching its apex, soon the confetti shall spill to the ground, the party music will envelops the night air, albeit briefly as the quiet is coming. Soon, our little nor’easter earth will become silent and still as the snow falls steadfastly ensuring the depths of our winter’s hibernation. Beneath all of this obligatory stillness our mind churns even if just dimly, yes, the mind does indeed churn, the powerhouse creating the thoughts convections which form and sustain our deliberate and unconscious motions in life. One of the greatest quests upon which we can embark is to live more deliberately, with greater awareness, to make conscious all of our human and unacknowledged motivations. How then can we honor our assumed attempts towards personal growth, these questions which are beckoned by the transition into yet another year? In exaltation of the grand pillar of knowingness which indicates another hallmark, we welcome you mindfully 2015.
Alas it is a 2015 and another succession of 365 tomorrows slumped forward and splayed out before us like a pristine canvas, acrylics atop the easel, how will we render our reality? Choose mindfully my friend, as you shift through the boxes of so many colors, which do you want to set the tone of your work? Our life is indeed the greatest act of deliberate creation which we can make and despite some utterances of powerlessness; we all preserve the power to choose how it is that we will respond to life’s grievances and successes, this is my solemn promise to you. So allow us to attune to the process of creation and examine the “how” it is that we paint our picture? This may be referred to as our personal style. What is the feeling which courses through your limbs as you reach for the brush and walk nearer the canvas? Is your heart beating in rapid succession, is your breathing sharp? Is there a sense of nervousness that you will make a blunder? If so that’s ok, there is still a choice in that, how do you respond to anxiety, do you allow fear to limit action? Perhaps you isolate from terror or embarrassment of your own emotional state, you sulk away or head back to the couch and put the blanket over your head, oh my friend, come on, come on back! While we have only one canvas, one year, time is our merciless provocateur, lest not we waste it all in perpetual forced solitude. Perhaps with some semblance of bravery you persevere, you fretfully and shakily reach for the paint, place a dollop upon the tray and allow your vision to take hold? Perhaps you grip the brush stiffly, pressing so forcefully into the canvas that miserly scrapings of paint are all that remains from your terrified attempt, yet when looking back you see that simply by loosening up just a bit, you could have rendered a fairly realistic still life of a sole granny smith apple, waxen gleam, atop your chosen ensemble of a purposefully barren cornucopia. Perhaps that is not like you at all, maybe you are characteristically bold, often finding yourself leaping first and thinking later. Perhaps you reach for the brush and feel brazen in your novice maneuvers, you haplessly secure the broad stroke brush and feverishly create only realizing when looking back that the form is sloppy and the colors have all bled together? Perhaps you are best maneuvering for more of an impressionistic feat, you can still make out the form of all of the people passing down the street that you relentlessly studied, in critiquing your work you imagine that you would like to render them with greater depth. Oh, our dear canvases abounded with stylistic features, the plentitude of variability towards the characteristics which allow us to create our world. What is your style, upon what could you hope to improve? What are your greatest regrets through the year? Perhaps you are like some of us and you wield your abundant energy to paint gloriously, for you it is an act of love and you would like all of the world to be an act of esteemed and exalted love,
fervor will thrust one far yet it is also easy to be burst into a perilous direction when making rapid and frenetic motions with ones paint brush. Yet this is the way you have always created your life’s work, still change can come when we concentrate our efforts and maybe this year something different is in order. When recalling the masterpieces and artistic disasters which your brush has bequeathed, on some days a dribble here and imperfection there, in which frame do you store your most treasured accolades. Perhaps it is the era of sketching out a design and landscape before putting brush to canvas, or perhaps for you it is moving beyond the sketch and working through the fears of actually committing to wielding motion to propel the brush. Some small motion towards growth, always it is intention and mindfulness that hold the key to most every great work, these are the skills which compel talent and desire. Happy New Year! Cheers to creating in the dazzling array of hues, in natural and free flowing form while still making space for artistic imperfections.
Happy New Year!
Stephanie McCracken MSPC
Nicole Monteleone NCC, NBCC, LPC
Reviving Minds Therapy
1010 Western Avenue Pittsburgh Pa 15233
by Stephanie McCrackenJune 18, 2014 counseling, couples counseling, couples therapy, marriage counseling, psychology0 comments
“To truly listen to another means that you are open to their ability to change you.” Anonymous
In working with married and long term couples, it is noticeable that those inevitable conflicts often spring from certain specific contexts and behaviors. While communication itself is a wellspring, influenced by depths of current which underlie its thrusting façade, the primary source of communicative energy is found in the depths of our psychology. It is under layers and layers of consciousness, those healthy and unhealthy parts of the self, formed in our earliest years and expounded upon as our life’s story unfolds. Yet with that being said, an exploration of communication itself is still a valid starting point to note the many ways in which attempts to convey our points, needs, and caring words may exhibit opportunities to be strengthened.
The most important point in understanding effective communication is that you allow the listener the opportunity to change you; anything else is in fact, not really listening. Imagine entering into a discourse in which you and your partner have been disagreeing about divergent political opinions, this is a longstanding issue of which both of you are well aware and your manner of relating to each other becomes almost pathologically scripted. Meaning that you are both mostly tuned out and non-receptive to the others viewpoints despite having much passion for the topic. It may have become beneficial for one or both of you to tune out and or shut down when it comes to certain sensitive topics as the mounting memory of failed communication attempts stings! Yet today is a new day and this is the point where the opportunity for strengthened communication can really offer gains. Now notice that you are not attuning to your partner and you cast aside your preconceived beliefs about yourself, your world views, parenting differences, and you instead and quite differently from your typical way of relating, you allow she or he to enter your thoughts and affect you.
One of the greatest gifts that we can offer another is our presence and attunement to their thoughts and feelings. Sometimes we don’t even want anyone to fix our problems or change anything but merely to be heard is often a powerful elixir to feelings of loneliness and disappointment and just as well to flavor our joys with a surplus of buoyancy.
The Imago Dialogue is a therapeutic tool that some practitioners utilize to help facilitate the kind of presence in conversation that sometimes becomes lost in the time or distance of our marriage or long term relationship, it has even been featured on The Oprah Show. While I would recommend that this be utilized in conjunction with marriage counseling / couples therapy to identify any other issues that are effecting the bond, this may be helpful for you or your partner to note as you attempt to repair your bond.
Listen– Listening means that you are offering your presence to you partner and that you are really entering their feeling state with the only goal being, to hear them. Other more faulty methods of listening may include hearing with the goal of responding which is not a part of empathetic communication.
Mirror- After your partner has spoken their entire point; you now are able to enjoy your chance to communicate by parroting everything that you have heard them say. You should be careful to contain only what your partner has said because this is about hearing your partner and not about adding in your thoughts, feelings, or reactions. When you finish speaking your mirrored statement ask your partner to follow up by saying “have I heard you correctly” or “does that sound right” or “can I add any more?”
Summarize- The next key component to the dialogue is that you paraphrase by distilling the key thoughts of your partner’s points into your own words.
Validate – Now you validate which extends your empathy and understanding to your partners view point, this is often easier to do after having truly listened to and internalized your partner’s viewpoints. The statement can be something like, “I can understand that _______ or it makes sense that_________.” This doesn’t mean that you necessarily agree with the points being conveyed but you are only indicating that you understand because you have entered his or her feeling and being state.
Empathize- Finally you can finish up by conjecturing what your partner may be feeling as a result of this new understanding of them, it is sometimes challenging to imagine what another person may be feeling but you can consider what you may feel if you were in the position that you have just heard as a result of the issues that your partner has shared. This is a stunningly healing and powerful point in which your partner may feel heard and understood this is often the height of what we are looking for!
To close and before switching roles, it may be helpful to have a discussion about how it felt to have this kind of communication for both of the partners.
This is certainly a helpful tool to prompt the kind of furtive dialogue which sustains the strongest bonds. If your marriage or relationship is suffering it may be time to explore a professional perspective!
In love and good health,
Stephanie McCracken MSPC
Reviving Minds Therapy
Psychotherapy and Marriage Counseling
1010 Western Avenue
Pittsburgh Pa 15233[contact-form-7 404 "Not Found"]
Imago Instructions retrieved from http://imagoworks.com/pages/dialogue_instructions.html
by Stephanie McCrackenOctober 23, 2013 counseling, couples counseling, couples therapy, marriage counseling, Uncategorized0 comments
The pattern of mounting resentment is sometimes evidenced in romantic love. As a psychotherapist offering marriage counseling I see couples approaching the proverbial office with a mile high and well-worn list of “crimes,” the accumulated wrongs etched in the heart and mind perpetrated by the accused, their wife/husband/girlfriend/ boyfriend/partner. The end result is two confused, hurt, and angry lovers, each defensively pointing a hostile finger at the other. What all of the old and played out arguments rarely touch upon is the vulnerability, the intense need and longing that each partner has covered up out of complete terror. According to some relationship theorists such as Dr. Sue Johnson, the terror strikes upon some of the basic and human fears that many healthy and unhealthy couples carry very deep within them, and mostly they mimic the very same needs of an infant and the way that the small baby communicates with their caregiver. Most of them sound something like this “Will you come when I cry out?” “Do I matter?” “Is it safe and stable to show my love with you?” Reflect for a moment on the difference between an infant that is picked up and nurtured when it cries versus the one who is left to bemoan itself when it is upset. One learns that its needs matter, will be attended to and the other works itself into an even greater frenzy before quieting out of complete exhaustion. It is true that most adult romantic love, often mimics these very basic and fundamental efforts to gain the love and attention of our hearts caregivers. It takes practice, and often times even professional interventions to hear the layers that exist under the arguments about who will do the dishes and take out the trash, the electric bill and groceries, which family we will spend Christmas with, who is initiating and receptive to sexual contact.
The couple enters treatment terrified that they will not receive the love for which their misled attempts are begging. After so much time in the vicious and bleak stalemate, their hopeless perpetual deadlock, both parts of the couple sigh, and enter the therapist’s office wanting to know why they spend more of their time fighting than loving. If this sounds like you, a couple’s therapist may make a vast improvement upon the quality of your relationship.
Following, you will find some key points for deescalating those hot topics and some basics leads to communicate more effectively with your partner. Hostile words may wage wars, angry verbiage may even win some battles but it is kind speech that will heave the proverbial mountain from the blocked impasse. Empathetically spoken syllables will turn a foe into a friend.
- When speaking with your partner it will best serve you and the relationship if you are able to control strong feelings and to talk in a calm and constructive manner. In other words if you are extremely angry, sad, hurt, be aware of your strong feeling state and momentarily consider what this is contributing to your words. Some speakers speak kind words but in a tone, speed or decibel which comes off as angry, beware of that. Your tone, words, and speed of speech should all communicate the same thing. It may help to momentarily close your eyes, and take in a few extended inhales in an effort to find your center. By interacting from your inner source of wisdom you increase the likelihood that you will move beyond those points which have kept your relationship stuck.
- Consider some of the words and phrases which litter those stilted efforts of communication. Below are some of the common phrases that we hear uttered in the midst of arguments along with alternative phrases which may create new possibilities for empathetic expression between you and your partner. When you keep in mind that human interaction is somewhat similar to the “choose your own adventure novels” that you may have enjoyed reading as a child. Each variance in the verbal exchange is an opportunity to move the conversation in a new direction.
OLD COMMUNCATION NEW COMMUNCATION
“You always do (insert XYZ)” —— It seems that I am noticing a pattern, I wonder what that is all about?
“You never do (XYZ)”—- I really wish that we could spend more time doing___________.
“I am so sick of (XYZ)”—– I really wish that we could start doing things like____________.
- Genuinely attempt to hear something different! When your partner is replying, be receptive to what they are saying and really take the time to hear them! Sometimes these hot topics put love on a battlefield and voices raise, tempers flare as each person struggles to be heard. The old game is to fling your next arrow at your opponent while they are finishing their words. Instead, try to hear them, think for a moment about what fear your partner may be communicating under his or her words, and try to repeat your partner’s statement back to them in your own words. It can be a monumental moment of change when a person feels that you took the time to hear them.
It is empowering to consider that there is a range of opportunity to experience positive hope with varying emotional reactions and verbal responses which are elicited by taking a less threatening stance in communication. It is true that it is challenging to alter responses and reactions when you are navigating a hot topic. It is also true that some individuals are more challenged than others when making the effort to stay calm. Either because you are becoming highly angry or withdrawing, I recommend that if it is proving to be highly difficult for you to keep your cool in conversation, you may benefit from professional input. Coping mechanisms to deescalate ourselves when feeling particularly hyper-aroused are learned skills that can be acquired. Also, it is certainly worth mentioning that any pattern of very strong reaction is likely our emotive spirits method of indicating a very important message to our thinking. Attempt a deeper look, try to focus past the growing frustration with your former inability to resolve those points which have you and your partner stuck. It is my belief that no matter how deadlocked the pattern of communication may be in your relationship, it is never too late to make positive changes in the right direction towards the warm and loving bond that you deeply long to achieve!
Love Happiness and Health,
Stephanie McCracken MSPC
Offering Psychotherapy and Marriage Counseling
Reviving Minds Therapy
1010 Western Ave Pittsburgh Pa 15233